“Criticism of others is thus an oblique form of self-commendation. We think we make the picture hang straight on our wall by telling our neighbors that all his pictures are crooked.”
― Fulton J. Sheen,
Imagine an overly crowded room, with two hundred people packed tightly in that room, shouting and arguing with each other. Imagine this just goes on day after day. Finally your mind blanks out, there is just this incessant noise that keeps droning on and on. That is how I felt when I decided to leave twitter this month.
I had such high expectations when I decided to join Twitter in March of this year. I dreamed of it opening my mind to various experts in their field, analysing and discussing in 280 words, the important issues of the day. With this in mind I initially followed a number of ” commentators” on all sides of the political spectrum and religious beliefs. As the weeks past I discovered new people to follow based on replies and retweets by the initial people I followed. At its peak I followed around sixty people.
I then discovered “Trolls”. One Saturday night in replying to a tweet on Christianity, I received a confusing answer to my reply. This went on for a while, my confusion increasing, till the penny finally dropped. I asked point blank am I being “Trolled” and I received a like and a retweet. My final reply before I blocked them was ” Goodnight sweet children, hope tomorrow is a better day for you”. When I was very young, perhaps from six to nine years old, we played a game called ” knock down ginger”. We would knock on someone’s door and then run as fast as we could down the street in fear of being discovered. Trolls were a little like that, making noise and quickly moving on to the next victim. Of course these trolls were adults and not six to nine years old. Some people just never grow up.
“A dozen more questions occurred to me. Not to mention twenty-two possible solutions to each one, sixteen resulting hypotheses and counter-theorems, eight abstract speculations, a quadrilateral equation, two axioms, and a limerick. That’s raw intelligence for you.”
― Jonathan Stroud, Ptolemy’s Gate
Disillusionment comes slowly. I followed some main street media columnists, as a way of getting instant Twitter feed to the columns they had written. These were media personalities, with about eighty thousand or more followers, that I found, personable, articulate and credible. It was a shock to me that their Twitter comments were in stark contrast to the persona they projected on the main media stage. Their comments were usually sarcastic, defensive and demeaning and rarely answered any critical question put to them. One such reply from a few of these columnists was, ” If you’re so smart why do you only have forty followers on Twitter”. The pure arrogance of this. Intelligence equates to the number of followers you have on Twitter. The Kardashians, Justin Bieber and Donald Trump must be the greatest thinkers in the world.
Current numbers for Twitter are around 335 million users. After large annual increases in users over the last twelve years the numbers have stagnated in the last three years. When I told my teenage grandchildren that I had left Twitter because there was a lack of intelligent conversation to be had, they just laughed at me. “You don’t go to Twitter for intelligent conversation bro”. They’ve always called me bro since we did a family rap session. As an example they showed me a tweet of a photo with dog poop on the bed with the caption ” my dog just pooped on the bed”. I forget how many hundreds of thousands of likes it received.
Perhaps my experience of negativity was because I followed so many political and religious commentators and people are very passionate about these subjects. It may also be because there is such a great divide these days in all spectrums of politics and religion. I find religion is becoming very political, political ideology is intruding more and more into the Christian church and dividing it’s members.
My cup tends to be always half full, so I may return to Twitter at some point, after rethinking who I should follow.